At a recent safety workshop held in Waltham, Mass on 9/17/2010 it was learned that the EPA, DOS and OSHA are going to work together to insure companies comply with regulations of both RRP and OSHA. It was reported that if an EPA or DOS RRP inspector discovers OSHA violations that they would report it to the local OSHA office. Conversely OSHA will do the same reciprocally.
This development will surely force those who are caught to comply. The question is when will OSHA, DOS and RRP enforcers start assessing fines on these companies? Will they go after all illegal contractors and punish to the fullest extent of the law? When I was asked to participate on a panel at the LEHA workshop in June I suggested that unless the EPA starts to fine, contractors will not take this regulation seriously. To the surprise of many I suggested that when the EPA finds a non-compliant contractor and drags the carcass around the countryside, then contractor's will pay attention. All too often government passes new regulations and fails to include the funding and resources needed to enforce. In addition, the EPA's recent extension of 6/18/2010 only reinforced the public's belief that they may follow the path of other unenforced regulations affecting the residential construction industry. Case in point the governments failure to regulate the underground contracting community. Will things be different this time around?
Are the EPA, DOS, OSHA crying wolf?
A recent poll of over 900 contractors revealed that 50% of RRP trained firms are holding off on their Certified Firm applications until the enforcement begins. Many have stated that they think the EPA and DOS just wants the money and they will not enforce due to lack of inspectors. Several contractors said when they see someone get nailed then they will consider it. Others state that they will worry about applying when they are visited by inspectors.
Contractor frustrations losing jobs to non-compliant companies
We have heard from hundreds of contractors who have become RRP ceritfied, asking when are they (EPA, DOS, OSHA) going to start enforcing the rules? These compliant contractors are fed up with the lack of enforcement on illegal contractors on RRP, OSHA, Licensing, Insurance and Permits. They are tired of losing jobs to the underground contractor community. The underground community consists of contractors who don't follow the rules, local fireman and teachers who work on the side without insurance, contracts, or permits asking for cash, laid off union and non-union contractors, and finally the last main group are illegal aliens who broke the law to get here. Legal contractors are also frustrated that consumers can hire illegal contractors and have work done with out permits and code inspections. These contractors state that they deserve to be treated fairly and are demanding that the Agencies equally enforce the rules to create a level playing field.
Once and for all legal law abiding, taxpaying, insured, RRP compliant, OSHA compliant contractors ask that these officials mount a full scale effort to force all illegal contractors to either become legal or force them out. Consumers should have skin in the game and be penalized for doing work illegally. Consumers who have work done illegally, often forgo permits and inspections from local inspectors. Defects in work may not be discovered until the home is sold and the new homeowner has to deal with uninspected inferior work. Maybe consumer agencies should be brought in to the discussion. They could warn consumers that hiring illegal companies who are not RRP and OSHA certified, work without insurance, pay help under the table and who are not subject to inspections, will likely lead to inferior work and decrease the value of consumers' properties.
The keepers of the American Dream
Legal contractors serve a vital role in our economy. They are the professionals consumers turn to improve, repair and preserve the American dream, their home. When our home is built, improved or altered to fit out changing needs we start to buy things for our home. This significantly spurs consumer spending and stimulates our economy.
I am told by legal contractors that they will comply because it is the right thing to do. They also tell me loudly, when are government agencies going to really do something about the underground contracting community?
Maybe the new development of OSHA, DOS and the EPA working together is a step in the right direction. Time will tell.
mark the coach